Even if you are in a supposed title-contender fight in the UFC, nothing is ever guaranteed.
We’ve seen it before. A contender turns in a non-impressive decision victory, and talks of him challenging for the title quietly come to a halt. A fighter with a more impressive performance is then rewarded with the opportunity.
It would behoove the winner to finish his opponent any way possible, to impress his boss and ensure that he’d be making the right decision on giving him that title fight.
TJ Grant did exactly that last night by knocking out the No.3-ranked lightweight contender Gray Maynard in the first round. The man he needed to please—UFC president Dana White—was impressed.
“I wanted to see something good tonight,” White said during the post-fight presser. “I wanted to see something special, and I saw that tonight and he’s getting the next title shot.”
The Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia native earned his fifth consecutive victory since moving to lightweight, and he was awarded the “Knockout of the Night” bonus.
White explained that the bonus almost went to someone else, but a boxing icon shot it down and pushed for Grant to win it.
"The 'Knockout of the Night' was going to be Junior do Santos,” White said. “It was going to be. It isn’t. That got vetoed by Mike Tyson, who said it should be TJ Grant.”
If that doesn’t cement the fact that Grant has done more than enough to deserve a chance at Benson Henderson’s 155-pound strap, nothing will.
Grant seized the moment last night, in his 11th fight of his four-year UFC career. He understood what was at stake last night and was well aware of the magnitude and level of importance the fight possessed.
The lightweight division is often considered a shark tank, due to the level of talent it keeps. Grant proved he is as bloodthirsty and relentless as any shark in the water.
After knocking Maynard down with a huge right hand, he swarmed in for the kill with knees and more punches—this time dropping Maynard for good at 2:07 of the opening round.
Frankie Edgar is the only other fighter to have knocked out Gray Maynard. However, Grant is the only one to do it in the first round.
The Canadian was ranked No. 7 yesterday. Now, he’s $50,000 richer and fighting for the lightweight title. He is getting married in October and, according to White, may get to fight before that on the UFC on FOX sports 1 card in August.
"There are four fights we're looking at right now for that show, and that's one of them," White said.
Michael Stets is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.